When it comes to academic writing, it is important to be diligent about collecting and organizing sources that will support your statements. The success of the overall project is often determined by the organizational skills you show during the research stage, and if you lose track of the sources of your ideas, you may also end up inadvertently committing plagiarism.
The following five tools can help you manage your sources and organize citations in accordance with whichever citation format you follow.
- Cite This For Me. The best way to manage citations is to write them in proper format as you craft the content of your project. However, you can easily lose focus if you are distracted by the need to follow the citation standards each time. Since every comma and capital letter is important, you can’t write loose citations that simply name the author and book/article you reference. With Cite This For Me, you can get proper citations in AMA, APA, Chicago, IEEE, Harvard, ISO 690, Turabian, Vancouver, MLA, and many other styles. All you need to do is choose the type of work you want to reference and provide the needed parameters. The tool will maintain a proper bibliography without being a distraction from your main work.
- CiteULike. With this free online tool, you can discover and manage scholarly references with little effort. New articles and resources are being added on a daily basis, and you’ll get automated article recommendations based on your search history. The service allows you to store your PDFs and search through them, so you’ll find it really useful when completing an academic project or doing research.
- EndNote. This tool is similar to Cite This For Me, since it enables you to get a properly formatted bibliography in the citation standard you follow. However, in addition to being a reference manager, EndNote is also a powerful research tool. You can use it to search through hundreds of online databases and collect full-text PDFs with little effort. You can then store and organize your references, and you’ll have built a perfectly polished bibliography when you’re done with the writing process. The only downside is that the most powerful version of the tool costs over $200, but that’s a smart investment to make when you’re working on an extremely important project. EndNote can easily serve as your dissertation guide with all the sources it helps you discover.
- Mendeley. This state-of-the-art reference manager enables you to build your own library that you can search through in seconds, and you’ll get proper citations as you write. You can access that library of PDFs from any device. Mendeley is not only a reference manager; it’s also a social network for academics. If you get stuck at any stage of the writing process, you can ask the members for advice. You can also join discussions on the topics of your interest, and you’ll soon realize that Mendeley is one of the greatest sources of knowledge on the web. The fact that it automatically generates your bibliography is a huge plus.
- Zotero. This is another free online tool that helps you collect, organize, and cite your research sources. You can also share your collection of sources with your team, so you’ll collaborate through the stages of completion.A unique feature of Zotero is that it automatically senses content in your web browser, reminding you to add important sources to your personal library with a single click. You’ll never forget to bookmark a relevant online source if you rely on Zotero.
Since the 5 tools listed above are similar in that they all allow you to collect, organize, and cite your research sources, it’s important to try few of them before you decide which one fits your needs. Once you settle on the perfect tool, rather than trying to maintain the right citation format, you can leave that task to the tool of your choice and stay focused on the essence of your project.
Rachel Bartee is an ESL teacher and a writer at EdugeeksClub who finds her passion in expressing her thoughts as a blogger. She is constantly looking for the ways to improve her skills and expertise. Her life principle is “Always do more than you can”. Get in touch with her on @rachel5bartee.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect that of the Textbook & Academic Authors Association. Read more about TAA guest posts here.